Announcing a New Book Project: The Historian’s Macroscope

A sneak peak behind the 'Maintenance Mode' at TheMacroscope.Org. Stay tuned!
A sneak peak behind the ‘Maintenance Mode’ at TheMacroscope.Org. Stay tuned!

Well, Shawn Graham, Scott Weingart and I are happy to be announcing today that we’ll be collaboratively and publicly writing a new book, tentatively titled The Historian’s Macroscope: An Approach to Big History. It is under contract with Imperial College Press, and we’re hoping to write it during the Fall/Winter 2013-14 academic year. Shawn Graham and Scott Weingart have both introduced this project eloquently on their own blogs.

We hope to fill a critical need in the field with The Historian’s Macroscope. The digital humanities are flourishing at the same time as the rise of Big Data (90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, according to IBM). Arguably we are on the cusp of needing to grasp Big Data approaches to do our own work, whether it’s understanding the underlying algorithms at work in our search engines, or needing to design and use our own tools to process comparatively large amounts of information. In this book, we thus peel back the layers of a particular approach to big data using topic modeling and network analysis. These techniques, which are growing in popularity in the humanities, need to be examined critically as they have been ported from divergent disciplines and domains.

With the recent American Historical Review announcement that graduate students should be allowed to embargo their dissertations for up to six years out of fears that publishers will be scared away, we think that we’ve found a good compromise. Drafts – written in the snippet order that any book comes together – will remain online in perpetuity, while the final book adds a level of review, polish, and cohesiveness to the project. There’s a real value-added proposition to what a good editor and publisher can add to a piece of work, as I’ve encountered in my own (hopefully near completion) book publishing process with UBC Press, and I think this should make everybody relatively happy.

I think from our respective posts you’ll see how excited we all are. Hopefully we can share some of that with you all during the process – see you all in September!

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